Maillard Tavern, the burger joint that Piccolo Sogno co-owners Tony Priolo and Ciro Longobardo opened in 2017, will be closing at the end of the month, Priolo says. The restaurant is another casualty of the two-years-and-counting pandemic; its last day of service will be next Saturday, May 28.
“Since the pandemic, Maillard Tavern has not done well,” Priolo says. “I can’t do it anymore.”
For the past two years, Priolo says, the restaurant has failed to turn a profit. Even after it was able to reopen after the mandatory closures by the state, he and Longobardo have had to contend with the rising cost of both ingredients (particularly beef) and everything related to the delivery operation, from containers to gasoline. Maillard Tavern was also one of the first restaurants in Chicago to sue its insurance company for failing to pay for business-related losses due to COVID-19.
Priolo will be selling his shares in the building to Longobardo, who has recently started a second business, a chain of Italian bakeries called Dolci Amori. Priolo himself will be focusing on Piccolo Sogno, which specializes in rustic Italian food and wine. Eight employees of Maillard Tavern will transfer to the other restaurant; several others have found new jobs elsewhere.
“The pandemic is killing our industry,” Priolo says. “We really believed in that space and the food we did there. It didn’t work. Now there’ll be paper in the windows.”
But Priolo has found perspective elsewhere: in March he helped organize a fundraiser at Navy Pier to benefit World Central Kitchen’s efforts to feed Ukrainian refugees on the Polish border, and later that month, he and several other local chefs, including Paul Kahan of One Off Hospitality and Giuseppe Tentori of GT Fish and Oyster, traveled to Poland to cook for refugees in person.
“It really makes you appreciate what you have,” he says. “These people had everything, and all of a sudden someone took it away.”
Maillard Tavern, 494 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.